upcoming events

in the next two weeks:

see all upcoming events


Do you have old cell phones or used ink cartridges and want to recycle them? Contact Liz Fossett.

dems poll

Unfortunately our poll cannot be displayed on this page.

georgetown dems blog

read the rest of the blog


Are you a Georgetown Dems alum? We'd love to hear what you're doing now!

subscribe to our mailing list

mailing list archive


We live in dangerous times. Yes, the war on terror is a serious and important fight and we should do almost everything we can to stop terrorists from killing another 3,000 Americans. But we cannot sacrifice our liberty. Stopping terrorists cannot extend to our libetry, to our freedom. In the last five years, our government has taken unprecendented measures to restrict our freedom. NSA wiretapping, secret prisons, human abductions, military tribunals, Abu Ghraib and torture, the PATRIOT ACT, and Guantanamo Bay. We have seen these blatant abuses of liberty and power grabs on the part of the President and his lawyers who have built a body of sketchy legal evidence and constitutional arguments for a cammander-in-chief having essentially unlimited power in wartime. Look at this piece from Bob Herbert from the New York Times (you will need TimesSelect to read it):

"Below the Radar: Secret Flights to Torture and 'Disappearance' " is the title of a recent amnesty International report on the reprehensible practice of extraordinary rendition, a highly classified American program in which individuals are seized — abducted — without any semblance of due process and sent off to be interrogated by regimes that are known to engage in torture.

Some of the individuals swept up by rendition simply vanish.

There is no way to know how many people have been seized, tortured or killed. Since there are no official proceedings, there is no way to know whether a particular individual who is taken into custody is a legitimate terror suspect or someone who is innocent of any wrongdoing. But we have learned, after the fact, that mistakes have been made.

This program, while supected of existing for a long time, was more recently reported by Dana Priest of the Washington Post. Congress has yet to act to investigate and dismantle this secret rendition program. Take the examples of Khaled el-Masri and Maher Arar:

You may not be familiar with the name Khaled el-Masri, but the Bush administration sure knows who he is. Mr. Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was arrested while visiting Macedonia in December 2003. A few weeks later, he was handed over to a group of masked men dressed all in black — in the so-called ninja outfits frequently worn by the rendition cowboys.

Mr. Masri's clothes were cut off and he was drugged, put aboard a plane and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held in a squalid basement cell for five months. It turned out, as noted by Dana Priest of The Washington Post, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize this week for her reporting on the government's covert counterterrorism programs, that "the C.I.A. had imprisoned the wrong man."

"Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the C.I.A.'s counterterrorist center's Al Qaeda unit 'believed he was someone else,' one former C.I.A. official said. 'She didn't really know. She just had a hunch.'"

Someone had a hunch that Maher Arar was a terrorist, too. A Canadian citizen who had been born in Syria, he was snatched by American authorities at Kennedy airport in New York on Sept. 26, 2002, and shipped off to a nightmare in Syria that lasted nearly a year. He was held for most of that time in an underground, rat-infested cell about the size of a grave.

No one, not even among the Syrians who tortured him, was ever able to come up with any evidence linking Mr. Arar to terrorism. He was released and returned to his family in Ottawa. Shunned and emotionally shattered, he seems a ruined man at just 35 years of age.

These two men were needless taken and stripped of their rights. Neither man was an American citizen, but because of the secrecy of this plan, no one knows if the United States actually has abducted its own citizens and sent them to foriegn countries to be tortured and imprisoned. We know about these problems and we should demand that this and NSA wiretapping without a warrant and the secret searches of library, medical, and business records in the PATRIOT ACT all be stopped. Let's take back our country and the liberties we hold dear. Call your congressman or Senator now and demand accountability!


Jeremy said...

These horrible abuses make null and void everything else we do in the world, almost. But the democrats have not been willing to pound the republicans on this issue for fear that they would be painted as soft on terrorism. It took a republican, John McCain to truly confront the republicans on the issue. How can a party claim to be the party of life, the party of values, when they are willing to use torture? Just like on so many other issues, our leaders have been all too silent on this issue.